Raiders’ Chinese odyssey could be NRL’s great leap forward

Chris Chard Columnist

By Chris Chard, Chris Chard is a Roar Expert

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    Tom Learoyd Lahrs in action during round 6 of the NRL. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay

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    Finally after fifteen years of teasing oriental footy fans, Canberra’s “Green Machine” is preparing to march into the People’s Republic of China next year. And not a moment too soon.

    In a country of 1.3 billion people I’m guessing it takes a lot to make a headline, but surely the sight of Josh ‘Tatts’ Dugan and Jarrod ‘The Frog’ Croker carving up the opposition will see as much excitement as any animal-themed New Year celebration.

    Mind you, should a bunch of blokes who are quite capable of causing an international incident at Dubbo Zoo really be our ambassadors to the world’s next superpower? And more importantly, won’t the locals be confused when the long trumpeted appearance of the great Laurie Daley doesn’t materialise?

    For those who don’t understand that last reference, let’s take a trip back into the dark recess of rugby league history. Let’s mention the war.

    During the Super League dark ages a lot of stupid things were said. Mal Meninga, a league immortal who would be flogging strawberries if it wasn’t for footy, asked a packed Cronulla League Club auditorium “What’s rugby league ever done for me?”

    A pony-tailed bloke exclaimed “Yes, yes, they look lovely!” to the Super League jerseys with the arrows pointing towards the players’ genitals.

    Most famous of all, though, were the comments made by Super League CEO John Ribot, to the effect that the breakaway competition will see, “Players like Laurie Daley recognised in China.”

    Wow. Not even Wayne Bartrim bought that one.

    Now don’t get me wrong, wanting to expand one’s sport is a noble endeavour. I’ve never really understood footy fans that are anti-expansion. When these people see a movie they love, do they not recommend it to others, just in case their friends think it sucks and instead point them in the direction of the latest Adam Sandler monstrosity?

    Personally I’d love to be backpacking through Nepal one day only to find players from the Kathmandu Cobras and the Pokhara Pirates going the grapple tackle and arguing about obstruction laws.

    Sports development is mostly a grassroots exercise though, and dumping a truckload of cash into an untried foreign market and expecting a great leap forward is really akin to driving around in a limo throwing seeds out the window and expecting an orchard to grow.

    The Raiders’ proposed game is admittedly a different kettle of fisherman’s friend, more of a tie-in with their new sponsor than a development tool (expect to see Cronulla players sucking back on menthol lollies on a prawn trawler any day now).

    Similar to the AFL game in China the other year, they’ll bus in a bunch of bewildered school kids and factory workers to the game, get their ugliest player to dress up in a traditional costume for a laugh, then launch a ‘Hail Mary’ bomb for expansion into the stands.

    Sure it’s probably against the odds that some local kid will catch the ball, run with the thing and score a try under the black dot for the code, but it’s nice to see the game finally making some ground on the wild predictions of yesteryear.

    So as crackers as the idea may seem, I say good on the Raiders for trying something different

    After all, it has to beat throwing rocks at the lions at Dubbo Zoo for the umpteenth time.

    You can follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious

    Chris Chard
    Chris Chard

    Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • April 13th 2012 @ 1:59am
      lauboy said | April 13th 2012 @ 1:59am | ! Report

      Interesting to see who their major sponsor is.
      This is the same company whose bid for the NBN tender was rejected on national security grounds (apparently, it’s virtually another arm of Chinese intelligence).

      • April 13th 2012 @ 6:07am
        Whites said | April 13th 2012 @ 6:07am | ! Report

        That’s exactly why they’re sponsoring the Raiders. To build their profile in Canberra.

        • April 13th 2012 @ 11:50am
          Jaceman said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          The Brumbies knocked it back after advice from govt officials – not sure why the Raiders didnt…

      • April 13th 2012 @ 11:59am
        Ken said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        Most of the little 3g modems for Optus (and I think most of the other networks) are made by Huawei and probably plenty of other networking equipment already in use around the country. They are one of the biggest hardware manufacturers for mobile networks in the world so it’s not that big of a surprise.

        I don’t think anyone was claiming that they are ‘virtually another arm of Chinese Intelligence’. ASIO recommended they be excluded since they can’t guarantee their independence from the Chinese government and the upcoming dependence on the hideously expensive NBN as the backbone of Australia’s communication network would make them too high risk.

    • Roar Guru

      April 13th 2012 @ 6:56am
      peeeko said | April 13th 2012 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      with regards to Meningas comment, go to you tube and type in Mal Meninga politics. one of the best careers in politics ever.
      i remember receiving advertising from the sharks during the super league war that their club “sharks international” (formerly cronulla sutherland leagues club) was going to become one of the major entertainment venues in the southern hemisphere due to super leagues expansion in to Asia and that super league players would be recognised all over Asia!

      • April 13th 2012 @ 3:44pm
        clipper said | April 13th 2012 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

        Yes, the Mal Meninga foray into politics never fails to elicit a laugh!

    • April 13th 2012 @ 8:26am
      Will Sinclair said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      The sheer stupidity of Super League never fails to amaze.

      Plonking meaningless teams with stupid names and terrible jerseys in cities that don’t want or need a rugby league team. Did they really think that would work?

      (By the way – I think it was Andrew Ettingshausen who was going to be popular in China. Assuming the Chinese watch Today Tonight, he may yet be…)

      • April 13th 2012 @ 8:39am
        Crosscoder said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        To be pedantic Wlll,it was on A Current Affair,the last word in that title being rather ironic.

        • April 13th 2012 @ 10:33am
          Will Sinclair said | April 13th 2012 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Crosscoder… I’m not even going to ask how you know that!

    • April 13th 2012 @ 8:33am
      Crosscoder said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      I think they(The Sharks) confused Southern Hemisphere with Southern SydneyThe entertainment provided last saturday night Peeko was proof of that.The clubhouse itself rocked after the victory.
      I do know the Sharks players are recognised by their supporters of Asian descent, living in the Shire.
      but yes th SL propaganda would have done Kim Il Sun proud.

      If being sponsored by an Asian company and that company suggests playing a game on the great Wall, if necessary,it can’t be a bad thing,either for the players,the travelling fans or even the curious locals.Play for the Raiders and see the world.I understand NRL games can be viewed in Asia,this just adds to teh mix.
      I expect in future as the Sharks are sponsored by Fisherman’s Friend,they will no doubt play games in the frigid northern regions .

    • April 13th 2012 @ 8:35am
      Tom said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Sounds, smells like GWS does it not. And everyone says
      super league was ridiculous

    • Columnist

      April 13th 2012 @ 8:41am
      Chris Chard said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Oh yeh, and just for anyone interested in this sort of thing word is that the Melbourne Storm will play the US Tomahawks in NY at the end of the season.

      Forget about Linsanity and Tebow time, wait untill Manhattan gets a look at …..Cameron Smith.


      • April 13th 2012 @ 10:35am
        Will Sinclair said | April 13th 2012 @ 10:35am | ! Report

        Most people in New York wouldn’t have even heard of MELBOURNE, let alone the Melbourne Storm.

        • April 13th 2012 @ 11:21am
          Patrick Angel said | April 13th 2012 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          Pleas pronounce it correctly, it’s Mell-Born.

        • April 13th 2012 @ 2:43pm
          Cameron said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

          This is quite true. When an Australian friend of mine said to a group of Americans when she was travelling over there that she was from Melbourne, they replied “oh sorry we only know your major cities”.

          • April 13th 2012 @ 8:40pm
            p.Tah said | April 13th 2012 @ 8:40pm | ! Report

            When I lived there I said I was from Australia. They asked if that was in Texas. No that’s Austin I said. Perhaps it was my accent.

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